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Steel Mill, Large Yard, and 3 Railroads: NYC, PRR, N&W

Sometimes we know exactly what we want to see in layout, but we just can't get all the real-world elements to line up in one actual place. My client was in just this situation: he knew the primary railroad for his transition-era N scale model railroad layout was to be the New York Central, with supporting appearances by the Pennsylvania Railroad and Norfolk & Western.

He also wanted a steel mill, a major port, a division-point style yard, and some coal mining. He was willing to go to multiple decks to achieve all of that in a roughly 200 square foot space (19 square meters, actually, the layout will be built in Europe). Fortunately, he models in N scale, so this was practical in his space. But we would definitely be proto-freelancing the multi-deck design.

N Scale Multideck layout track plan NYC PRR NW
For detailed views, click below:

I suggested the real-life location of Portsmouth, Ohio as a focal point, and it became the site of a port facility and large yard on the lower deck. Although this was primarily a Norfolk & Western yard in the real world, it's an NYC facility here. My client decided to call his layout the NYC Scioto Valley Division, and we used local names for a number of the scenes (although the model doesn't resemble the real places).


A pair of helixes allows us to connect staging below and an N&W coal branch on the upper deck. In N scale, there's enough room for a very flexible staging arrangement that allows either "loop" or "through" routings.

You can read much more detail about the layout in the September/October, 2010 issue of Model-Railroad-Hobbyist media-zine, always free for download on the web! The article includes detailed descriptions of the large steel mill (based on Walthers kits) and the complete yard facilities.


The layout is also featured in the TrainPlayer program as one of hundreds of layouts that may be operated on your computer using the TrainPlayer software.


The Scioto Valley layout is designed to provide a variety of operating roles, from dedicated yard and steel mill railroad crews to a variety of freight and passenger jobs. If you're interested in developing an engaging railroad in your space, please contact me so that we can discuss your ideas.

Copyright 2010 by Byron Henderson

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